By George Gilson

Large anti-fascist marches with the slogan “Fascists out of our neighbourhood” were held today in Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras and other areas of Greece to mark the first anniversary of the conviction of the far right Golden Dawn party and the subsequent imprisonment of six of the now defunct party’s MPs and other top cadres.

The demonstration in the capital began outside the Athens Courthouse on Alexandras Avenue, where one year ago today over 10,000 citizens awaited and then thunderously cheered the guilty verdict in the Golden Dawn trial

In Thessaloniki, protesters gathered with slogans such as “We are fighting fascism and the system that breeds it” and “You are the rot of the world, blockade against fascists in every neighbourhood”.

All political parties last year welcomed the verdict as a victory for democracy, though anti-fascist groups and others have often reiterated that Greek neo-Nazis have hardly been finished off and that they enjoy the protection or at least the clear tolerance of state authorities.

The anniversary demonstrations come at a time that Golden Dawn and other fascist and neo-Nazi groups in Thessaloniki and other cities are rearing their ugly heads – along with a variety of ultra-nationalist groups – in an apparent effort to demonstrate that they are not at all finished and that they plan to intensify their presence with their signature attacks by helmeted gangs of storm troopers.

The recent violent attacks at a professional lyceum [EPAL] in the Stavroupolis area of Thessaloniki and later on members of the Greek Communist Party Youth (KNE) have stirred heightened concerns in Greek Police and the government that heretofore subterranean fascist and neo-Nazi current will publicly make its presence felt and grow stronger.

Major Golden Dawn demonstration to be held in Thessaloniki

Acting with total impunity, Golden Dawn is scheduled to hold a huge rally in Thessaloniki at 8pm tomorrow with hundreds of followers and members of other far right and ultra-nationalist groups expected to turn up by their side.

According to an announcement on the website of Golden Dawn’s youth branch (“Youth Front”), the show of force is scheduled for 8pm on 8 October.

The call toward Thessaloniki fascists and neo-Nazis states that various other groups will be participating– the Youth Front, the Movement of Nationalist Lawyers, representatives of nationalist local government factions, and the [Golden Dawn] cells in Northern Greece.

Though the vicious attacks and even murders of Golden Dawn storm troops against migrants, anti-fascists, and various leftist groups were widely known for years, it took a murder in plain sight on a street in Keratsini with many eyewitnesses – that of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas on 18 September, 2013, by Golden Dawn member Yorgos Roupakias – for police and the judiciary to investigate in earnest and get to the bottom of the case.

Magda Fyssa, an anti-fascist icon

It was Magda Fyssa, the rapper’s mother, flanked and supported by anti-fascist lawyers and groups of activists, who played a pivotal role in pressuring authorities to get to the bottom of the case.

She attended every day of the trial, with countless postponements, and became a truly national, ant-fascist icon.

With 69 individuals on trial and a host of logistical and other obstacles, it took five years to adjudicate the case and reach a guilty verdict, which no one had taken for granted.

The images of Magda Fyssa on the steps of the appellate court with raised, clenched fists crying out “My son, you made it!” remain deeply ingrained in the public consciousness

‘Nothing has finished’

Front-and-centre, as always, at today’s anti-fascist rally that began at the Athens courthouse, Magda Fyssa told, “The struggle continues. Nothing has finished.”

“This is a historic day. We all remember this great [court] ruling. It is ingrained in the memory of all of us. That does not mean that we have finished. We have ahead of us an appellate court case that is very difficult. The struggle in the streets is not over. We have seen what has happened in recent days,” she said.

Regarding the events at the Stavroupolis professional lyceum she said, “That is as it ever was. In the past we simply did not see it. Now it is apparent. This country cannot endure yet another dead victim.”

“The struggle continues. Nothing has stopped and nothing has ended.”